Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Some Good Old Friends by Marion Ekholm

      
I have two very old books in my library – my first grade reading book, Our New Friends (remember Dick, Jane and Spot?), and One Hundred and One Famous Poems. Neither one has any monetary value. Our New Friends is falling apart with a good dozen or more pages either ripped or torn out, something that I had no part in. The book of poems shows extensive wear, and the cover was once colored by a five-year-old – ME.

FIRST GRADE READER


I have a copy of the children’s book because I was able to take it home – the same day I came down with the measles. It became my property because the Broad Street School in Plainville, Connecticut, refused to take back a potentially contaminated book. However, no one ever caught the measles from it.





I can still remember my stay at home, licking a Sugar Daddy on a stick, reclining on the couch with my legs extended against the back and my feet touching the wall. I wiggled my toes against the wallpaper and scratched my back against the course surface. My mother never scolded me, one of the joys of being sick. And oh, that caramel pop was a wonderful treat. Those recollections come back full force every time I see that book.

 
 
The book of poems belonged to my mother, a treasure from her grammar school days. Reading poems with her was often a highlight in my young life and helped encourage my desire to read. On many occasions I memorized a few of them. I particularly liked “The Spider and the Fly” by Mary Howitt. All the poets had a cameo portrait next to their work. “Trees” was another poem I liked because it was simple and easy to remember. Sergeant Joyce Kilmer wore a WWI helmet in his picture.
 
A good thirty years after learning the poem, I ended up in Mahwah, New Jersey, 600 hundred feet across from the Joyce Kilmer Grammar School. The Kilmer family had lived on Airmount Road, less than a mile from my house. Someone pointed it out to me, and I saw many trees that might have provided his inspiration. And yes, both of my children were required to learn the poem at school.
 
Do you have any “old books” that are special to you? Just seeing them on the shelf can bring those memories back as though they happened yesterday.

29 comments:

  1. I did have a very old primer that belonged to Denny's grandmother when she went to a one-roomed school. I haven't seen it since my last move. I hope my kids, who helped me pack and move didn't toss it. Otherwise I have 2 very old Pollyanna books and some Zane Grey books copyrighted in the 30's. I had some first edition Nancy Drew that I gave my oldest granddaughter. Her 4th grade teacher got very excited over them and told her she should keep them safe and not loan them out. Not sure what she did with them. But she's a book lover. Each time I've moved I've had to part with books I wanted to keep, and I always hated that and tried to see they went to good homes.

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    1. I keep losing books whenever I move because the boxes are so heavy but I always manage to keep my favorites.

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  2. Marion, your post made me wish I did have some old books with all the wonderful memories they evoke. I do have a diary my mother kept for a short period in her life, which I treasure.

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    1. I have my mother’s diaries she kept right before she married up to the time of my birth. Wonderful information I treasure although I never found out exactly why she named me Marion.

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  3. I don't have any very old books unfortunately, but I won't depart with some cherished classics: Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Heidi and a lovely illustrated Reader's Digest copy of Pride and Prejudice.

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    1. All of those are treasures I've enjoyed reading.

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  4. No old books, but some great memories. I think my mom tossed anything that looked old when she was cleaning out the attic one time...along with my baseball cards with a 1951 Willie Mays...

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    1. So sorry you lost your baseball cards.

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  5. Marion, these books are treasures! I have my Richard Scarry's Best Story Book Ever from my childhood. I learned to read with that book and it, too, has some added 'illustrations' and 'commentary' that I added with pencil and crayon. The other 'old' book that I treasure is a copy of Jane Eyre that my best friend's mom gave me when I was about twelve. It had belonged to her mother and I credit it for starting my love of
    romance novels...

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    1. My mother always encouraged my interest in art so she never complained if I drew on my books.

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  6. I have some old Pollyanna books, and I had the same first grade reader you do, though I don't remember where in the series that one was. I got the measles in the 1st grade, too. I insisted I was well because it was the day of the Valentine's party and I HAD to be there, even though there were only 10 or so left in the classroom because the measles had taken over the school. My mom had to pick me up when I ended up with a fever and in tears. But I got my valentines!

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    1. I had a similar situation in second grade when I had to be taken home sick from a class party. And I had wanted so much to have that soda the teacher had provided, a real treat for me.

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  7. What a great post. My mother kept all my Golden Books. All my life, if it had an animal on it, I wanted it. The Poky Little Puppy was the best. What a sweet surprise it was to find them in her attic when we were cleaning it out. I wished she was still there so I could tease her about never being able to toss a book (and for so many, many other reasons) Also in the box? A collection of Teen Beat magazines.

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    1. How nice that you're mother saved all those things for you.

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  8. Marion - How fun to think back on favorite books. Like Roz, we had a lot of Zane Gray's book because my dad loved him, and Jane Austen because my sister was in high school and read them for class. Like Cheryl, I got a new Golden Book every Saturday - my favorite was Samantha and the Rain because of her color-coordinated rain outfit. Mine was really ugly. (Was it measles or mumps that required you were dark glasses?)

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    1. I don't know about the dark glasses but I had every childhood illness that children now can avoid.

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  9. I've got the old blue Nancy Drews. Same for the Bobbsey Twins and The Five Litttle Peppers and How They Grew.

    I remember Teen Beat magazine! For our 4th date, hubby took me to see David Cassidy in concert. Now that was a sacrifice. But, I think he enjoyed it more than when I had him take me to see the Dixie Chicks. Hmmm, my man is not country, but I am.

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    1. Didn't you celebrate with country music at your wedding?

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    2. off key.
      LOL, yes, but remember, we were in the honeymoon stage and he, back then, was much more accommodating. Now when I turn on my country he rolls his eyes and starts singing off key.

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  10. My mom has a set of old Bobbsey Twins books that I can't wait to inherit someday! I remember looking at them when I was little, amazed that she had something so old. They're from 1904. But I also love all the old Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books she has in a bookcase for the grandkids.

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    1. Over 100 years old! A lot of paper products don’t last that long.

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  11. I love Anne of Green Gables. I've read those books so many times that I've had to replace the boxed set twice. It reminds me of every good thing that a childhood should be. Mine wasn't great, but by reading those books, I could escape into Anne's life and be here for a while. So wonderful.

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    1. I recently found Anne of Green Gables at my daughter's while I was baby-sitting. Ended up reading it instead of watching TV.

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  12. Lovely post, Marion. I still have a weathered 1950s book about Mississippi riverboats. I've used it so many times in research. And I guess I'm still a latent wanderer.

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    1. I’ve been on a cleaning rampage lately and my bookcases are the next in my planned attack. I’m sure I’ll find even more treasures.

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  13. What a coincidence - I too have the book One Hundred and One Poems, and it also belonged to my mother. And my favorite poem was Trees. I haven't looked at the book for a long time, but your post prompts me to take it off the shelf and enjoy it again.

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  14. Hi Marion, I saw that your book is out this month. Yay.
    And yes, I have a bunch of old books. Unlike Pamela, I skipped Nancy Drew and went straight to my mom's romance novels. (She didn't know it-smile) And I still have several of them. My favorites are Gone With The Wind and Rebecca. I so smile when I see them on my shelf.

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  15. Like you, Marion, I still have my very first reader from first grade. I also have many of the paperbacks that my grandmother passed on to me when I was 12 or 13, "Joy in the Morning" by Betty Smith, "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee...They're so old and are held together with rubberbands around them.

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  16. Marion, I do have old books that I cherish, but some of the childhood books I cherished the most (as beat up as they were from time and use) were lost when our basement flooded about 2 yrs ago. I had them in a box stored so that my kids (who had enjoyed them) could then pass them on to their kids. In fact, the night before the flood, I had brought one up to read to my youngest and I told him about how it was the book my dad read to me the most as a child...Buzzita. I read it to him and that night, the book was destroyed. I'm so glad I had the chance to share it with him though.

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